For a second it looked like we were headed for a rematch of this year’s Wimbledon final at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.
Simona Halep seemed destined to come from behind in her quarter-final match against Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova. But after the World No. 4 fell just short in the first set, she was forced to retire with a left ankle injury – with the scoreline at 6-4, ret. – sending Bouzkova to her first-ever WTA semi-final.
The 21 year old from Czech Republic got off to a hot start. She managed to convert her first break point of the match thanks to a couple of forehands that eventually Halep couldn’t handle. In the Romanian’s next service game, it was more of the same. Bouzkova went up by a double break highlighted by a dropshot by the Czech youngster that set up an easy winner. Bouzkova would then save a break point in her next service game, holding serve by winning three straight points.
But Halep had some fight in her, despite whatever ankle issues she might’ve been trying to fight through. Trailing 4-1, the World No. 4 hit a beautiful two-hand backhand to set up a break point that she would convert. Then, now trailing by one, Halep connected on a couple winners before an unforced error by Bouzkova leveled the set.
But the Top 100 debutante wasn’t going to go away without a fight. Bouzkova managed to regain her lead when Halep hit a two-hand backhand into the net. The Romanian would follow that up with another unforced error with Bouzkova holding set point. Immediately before the second set was set to start, Halep retired from the match after seeking some treatment.
It might have been the way she would’ve wanted it, but Bouzkova now has three straight wins against Grand slam champions at Rogers Cup. She started this streak by upsetting Sloane Stephens in the second round, before taking down the former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Bouzkova will look to make it four straight when she faces Serena on Saturday night for the first time in her career. The Czech qualifier is having a tournament to remember. Prior to making her Rogers Cup debut, Bouzkova entered the event with an 0-7 record against any player ranked in the Top 50. She has since scored two victories against opponents ranked comfortably within that range (Halep & Stephens) during the tournament.